Biodiv Sci ›› 2014, Vol. 22 ›› Issue (5): 549-563.  DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1003.2014.14124

• Review • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Influence of climate change on wild plants and the conservation strategies

Lei Li1, Jiakuan Chen1,2,*()   

  1. 1 Center for Watershed Ecology, Institute of Life Science, Nanchang University, Nanchang 330031
    2 Institute of Biodiversity Science, Fudan University, Shanghai 200433
  • Received:2014-06-12 Accepted:2014-08-25 Online:2014-09-20 Published:2014-10-09
  • Contact: Chen Jiakuan


Recently, the influence of climate change on wild plants has attracted keen attention from international scholars. In an effort to elucidate the importance of considering climate change effects in the conservation and management of wild plants, we first summarized the status of global climate change in the world and its trends in next 100 years, as well as the conservation status of plants in China in recent years. Specifically, we reviewed research on the potential influences of global warming on wild plants from several aspects, including northward migration of plants with shifting climate zones, glacial recession in polar regions, warming in high altitude mountains, sea level rise, advance of temperature rise in early spring, desert steppe soil temperature increase, drought-flood cycle alterations, as well as the response of interspecies relationships and sensitive plant taxa to global warming. Then, we analyzed the general trends of future global warming effects on wild plants by reviewing global ecosystem sensitivity, plant diversity, plant migration and climate sink areas, species adaptation and extinction, as well as plant phenology in the context of global warming. Finally, we suggest that key areas of plant diversity should be delineated and protected, with a focus on climate-sensitive taxa and plants that are involved with plant-animal interactions that will be affected by climate factors. The impacts of global climate change should be taken into account in the further development of nature reserves. We also recommend the establishment of a database for the long-term and systematic monitoring of wild plant distribution and population dynamics on a global scale. Technologies for ex-situ conservation of wild plants and information networks should be developed. Quantitative indices and corresponding models relating the response of wild plants to global climate change should be also developed. Finally, we suggest that the conservation and management of wild plants in response to global climate change should be listed as priorities by associate foundations.

Key words: global warming, glacial recession, sea level rise, plant diversity, species migration, phenology, ex situ conservation